The Best Skincare Ingredient Combos You Need To Try

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Every skincare ingredient boasts its own set of benefits. Sometimes, though, their benefits become even greater when paired with another. Think spaghetti with meatballs, liner and mascara, yins and their yangs, Romeo and sweet Juliet. Because Valentine’s Day is around the corner and we’re feeling that mushy “we go together” energy, we’re shouting out four of the best duos in the skincare kingdom.

Sunscreen and Vitamin C

Sunscreen by itself is a skincare hero we should slather every single day. It protects our skin from damaging UV rays that can cause skin cancer and expedite the signs of aging. Vitamin C is another skincare ingredient that ought to be applied daily. It’s a potent antioxidant that protects our skin from free radical damage, and it can also help create a bright and clear complexion.

Interestingly, the two ingredients have been scientifically proven to work even better when they’re paired together. Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist at Shafer Clinic in New York City, adds that vitamin C paired with SPF “helps against common breakouts as a result of many sunscreens.”

Sunscreen and Vitamin C

Start looking closely and you’ll notice that many SPFs are already formulated with vitamin C, which takes the work out of the equation. For example, there’s Supergoop Daily Dose Vitamin C Serum SPF 40, $46, and Dr. Zenovia Skincare Vitamin C Brightening Moisturizer SPF 30, $68, or the Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++, $65.

Retinoids and Niacinamide

Hands down, a retinoid is one of the most important skincare ingredients you can use. It’s been scientifically proven to expedite cell turnover and collagen production, and helps your skin look smoother, firmer, and clearer. That said, it can be irritating to your skin as you go through the introductory “purge period.” Pairing it with a gentle ingredient is key.

“Topical retinoids, like over-the-counter retinol or prescription tretinoin, pair perfectly with niacinamide,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a board-certified celebrity dermatologist in New York City. “Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that soothes inflammation and evens skin tone. While retinoids stimulate collagen and enhance cell turnover, they work with niacinamide to improve overall skin texture, tone, and radiance.”

Retinoids and Niacinamide

He adds that this duo is especially good when you’re treating acne with prescription tretinoin. You’ll get the benefit of clearing acne and improving the appearance of dark spots (a benefit of niacinamide). Try Paula’s Choice RESIST Intensive Repair Cream, $33, or It Cosmetics Hello Results Wrinkle-Reducing Daily Retinol Serum-in-Cream, $69.

We’re also big fans of The Inkey List Niacinamide Serum, $7, so try layering this one before your retinol moisturizer in the evening, and work it into your morning skincare routine too.

Retinoids and Peptides

Another ingredient that retinoids pair well with are peptides, which are little chains of amino acids (protein fragments). You can learn more about how peptides work in the post we wrote last year.

“Especially [when applied] at nighttime, this collagen-building combination helps the actives get deeper into the dermis and the peptides aid in less irritant of retinol that many patients suffer from,” explains Dr. Engelman. “To create retinol adherence from the beginning and gain the benefits of firmer, clearer, stronger skin, choose a pea-size amount of retinol, followed by a moisturizer with a heavy load of peptides.”

Retinoids and Peptides

If you already have a favorite retinol and/or peptide, then you can pair them together. If you’re seeking a product that combines both try First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate, $58, or Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Facial Serum, $39.

Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide

You know hyaluronic acid as the humectant ingredient that attracts water from the air and into your skin. It’s known for its serious plumping abilities, leaving skin feeling and looking hydrated and healthy. Dr. Engelman says that hyaluronic acid pairs beautifully with niacinamide, which we talked about a bit above.

“To lock in moisture, especially in the dry, colder months, the combination of layering hyaluronic acid first and then followed with niacinamide works to hydrate at the deepest level,” she explains. “The niacinamide also keeps oil production in check, balances the skin, and helps to minimize pores size. It also is an anti-inflammatory while aiding against trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL).”

Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide

You can layer your own products, or if you want a one-and-done combo, try the WISHFUL Thirst Trap Juice HA& Peptide Serum, $47, Kylie Skin Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $28, or Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops, $34.

Will any of the above info change the way you do skincare? Let’s dish in the comments.

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